New England primaries: big field in hot pursuit of voters
Boston — Republican and Democratic presidential candidates are looking well beyond next week's Iowa party caucuses to the fast-approaching primaries in New Hampshire (Feb. 26) and Massachusetts (March 4).
Except for President Carter, all major -- and most of the minor -- White House aspirants in recent weeks have been in hot pursuit of voter support in both states. And within the next few days most of them will be back for yet another round of campaigning -- particularly in New Hampshire, where seven Republicans and five Democrats are on the ballots.
Although the Democratic primary in New Hampshire is generally viewed as a two-way tussle between President Carter and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has been stepping up his efforts there.
The party ballot also includes two other would-be contenders for the presidential nomination -- Richard B. Kay, a Cleveland attorney, and Lyndon H. LaRouche of New York, who has previously run for president under the US Labor Party banner. They qualified for next month's preference primary by filing at least 1,000 voter signatures.
There may be an even more wide-open scramble on the New Hampshire Republican primary ballot. The candidates are US Reps. John B. Anderson and Philip M. Crane of Illinois, Sen. Howard H. Baker JR. of Tennes see, former Central Intelligence Agency director George Bush of Texas, former Texas Gov. John B. Connally, Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas, and former California Gov. Ronald Reagan.
The Republican and Democratic primary ballots also include spaces for "write in" candidates.
Besides measuring the comparative popularity of various presidential candidates, the outcome of the New Hampshire primary will decide the allocation of the 19 Democratic and 22 GOP delegates to next summer's national party conventions.
In Massachusetts only three candidates -- Messrs. Carter, Brown, and Kennedy, listed in that order -- will be on the Democratic ballot.
The Massachusetts Republican ballot, however, will have two more candidates than New Hampshire's: California businessman Benjamin Fernandez and former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen. Both failed to meet New Hampshire signature requirements. Former President Gerald Ford; retired US Army Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr., White House chief staff in the final months of the Nixon presidency; and Sen. Larry Pressler of South Dakota, whose names had been tentatively placed on the Massachusetts ballot by either Secretary of State Michael Connolly or state Republican chairman Gordon Nelson, have withdrawn.
The Massachusetts GOP ballot includes, in the follwing order: Anderson, Baker , Bush, Connally, reagan, Dole, Fernandez, Stassen, and Crane. Below the names, both the Democratic and Republican presidential primary ballots have two additional spaces: the first is marked "no preference" and the second provides for a "write in" vote.
Most of the Democratic delegates, on the other hand, will be preselected. Each of the presidential candidates will hold a Feb. 10 caucus at which full slates of potential delegates, favorable to his candidacy, will be selected.
Vermont also has its presidential primary March 4, but as in 1976 the candidates have tended to bypass it. Candidates wishing to compete have until Feb. 13 to file the necessary 200 voter signatures and pay the $1,000 entry fee. Only Republicans Bush and Stassen had officially filed at this writing.
The primary outcome in Vermont is nonbinding; national convention delegates are chosen at a later date. Vermont has 12 Democratic and 19 Republican delegates to the national convetions next summer.